UPDATE: 1:20 PST. The Guardian has been reading through the emails and has made an important clarification... All the emails have the same time stamp as those originally released in 2009. So essentially this is the part of the same batch of originally hacked "Climategate" emails. Originally there were only 1,000. There are several thousand more in this batch.
It appears as though the University of East Anglia has not yet learned its lesson about cyber security. Despite being dragged through the mud for close to two years over the "Climategate" scandal, which has new been repeatedly disproven, a hacker using a Russian server was able to find and release additional new emails in an attempt to revive the manufactured scandal just a few days prior to the upcoming U.N. climate conference, COP17.
Here's the scoop on what is now being called "Hackergate":
Most All of the emails are more than 5 years old (and we're part of the original "Climategate" email release). Some of them are newer, but All of the issues raised have been investigated fully, and the scientists involved both at the University of East Anglia and elsewhere have been cleared in not one, not two, but nine independent reviews.
2. The science of climate change has been corroborated even by climate skeptics. The BEST (Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature) report was funded in part by the Koch brothers. Hoping to use a major university to cast doubt on the essentially unanimous consensus about climate change, the report did quite the opposite. Confirming the veracity of previous findings (such as the "Hockey Stick Graph") made famous by the University of East Anglia.
3. Clearly the timing of these emails smells of a conspiracy. The U.N. climate talks will resume in Durban, South Africa, next week, and it's clear the attack is timed to derail the process by falsely undermining the science used by climate negotiators.
4. Interestingly, the hacker made a statement that we should use money to alleviate poverty instead of cutting emissions. When in fact climate change is now considered one of the leading drivers of poverty, food scarcity and reduced access to clean water. At TckTckTck, we wrote up a brief explaining the deep connections between climate change and poverty. You can read it on the Tck website.
5. Here is an example of one of the emails that the skeptics would love us to take out of context:
I am afraid that Mike is defending something that increasingly can not be defended. He is investing too much personal stuff in this and not letting the science move ahead.
When you read something like this, you have to understand two things. First off, scientists get really worked up about some of the tiniest minutiae, details like benchmarking taxonomies for clustered algorithms. In this case, it is likely referring to one of many methodologies for projected global temperature anomalies, which takes me to the second point...
The IPCC reports factor in hundreds, and hundreds of different studies. The truth lies in looking at all these reports together, and seeing the mean results of their predictions. That is how science works, so even if (hypothetically) one scientist gets overly attached to one particular methodology that is out of the norm, the hundreds of others reports will balance it out.
After a year that broke nearly every temperature and extreme weather record, and the now incontrovertible link to climate change as a primary driver, the whole world has made the connection. By releasing these emails now, the well-funded climate skeptic industry is getting more desperate in its attempt to mislead the public. But it's already backfiring. Even the conservative Daily Mail in the U.K. dismissed the latest attempt as "hot air" to drum up controversy.
These measures by climate skeptics if anything will serve to make the public more concerned about climate change as they ask questions like "Why are some people working so hard to negate the science in the first place?"
Climate change is happening now. It's a fact. And millions of people, the world's poorest, are suffering. That is why we look to the United Nations COP17 conference for hope — that we can come together to forge a new way forward, one that offers a sustainable, livable and peaceful future for all of Earth's inhabitants.
NOTE: As the holidays are coming up, I encourage you to read MNN's handy guide on how to discuss climate change with your cranky uncle. Good read!